A plant-based diet can be seriously nutritious – but only when it’s done well!
If you’re constantly relying on processed carbs and refined sugars to get you through as a vego, you’re missing the mark. It’s not hard to incorporate healthy fats, veggies and protein into your diet as a vegetarian, but sometimes it can be easy to feel uninspired.
So, we rounded up a few of our IQS experts (and some of our veggie-loving IQS team) and asked them for their tried and tested tips and tricks on how to live a happy, sugar-free life as a vego.
Naturopath + nutritionist, Emily Seddon, highlights the importance of combining complementary proteins.
“My go-to tip would absolutely be to ensure adequate protein intake. It is easily the hardest macronutrient to maintain when on a plant-based diet, but it’s super important! It helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, helps you feel fuller for longer and less likely to reach for a sweet snack. Amino acids also play a vital role for your liver function and health.
Complete protein is easy to get when you eat meat but it’s a bit harder when you’re sticking to plant foods only. The trick is to combine complementary incomplete proteins, such as:
- Legumes with whole grains (e.g. black beans and rice, wholegrain bread and peanut butter)
- Nuts and seeds with legumes or grain (e.g. chickpeas and tahini – hummus, yay!)
- Or, by choosing complete proteins like whey protein, soy, amaranth, quinoa, hemp seeds, and chia.”
Our marketing assistant, Eliza, is a vegetarian and always has tons of veg in her work lunches!
“My top tip: get creative! Meat and two veg may be out the door, but trust me – you won’t miss it. Get inspo from Instagram and whip up vegetarian versions of your old faves. It’s a common misconception that vegetarian food is boring, but don’t be fooled. There’s SO much you can do with plant foods, just take a look at our fave IQS veggie recipes. Secondly, don’t just eat pasta, bread and rice! It can be easy to load up on refined carbs and not much else when starting out as a vegetarian, but it probably won’t leave you feeling boosted with energy. Make sure you’re still basing your meals around veggies first and foremost, protein, healthy fats, and then add in some whole grains where you feel like it. As always, the more colourful your plate, the better.”
Nutritionist + naturopath, Rachel Laon, says that protein and fibre are winners when you’re vego.
“Sources of protein such as eggs, beans, lentils and pulses, as well as nuts and seeds are a great place to start when you’re a vegetarian. And, we know that fibre is key to having more of the good gut bugs in your system so 4–5 cups of veggies per day would be the ultimate goal! To start the day, I would go for something high in protein and fibre like veggie frittatas – they also go a long way.”
Nutritionist, yoga teacher + vegetarian, Raj Barker, makes sure to fill her plate with a variety of coloured vegetables.
“It’s very important to be mindful of your protein intake once you cut out meat. You’ll need to be conscious of food pairing to create a full protein containing all nine essential amino acids. For example, an egg contains all the amino acids you need, but rice does not. Beans and lentils don’t either. However, if you combine the rice and the beans in one meal it creates the complete protein we’re looking for. Clever, right? Plant-based food is much easier to digest so generally you need to firstly, eat more of it and secondly, eat more regularly. Always listen to your body but for me (I’m vego!) and my vegetarian clients, I’ve noticed the need for abundance to keep energy levels up, sleeping patterns stable and hunger pangs at bay. And lastly, have a variety of colours in your diet. By taking a whole food group out you need to replace with something else. This requires work so keep your food nutrient-dense, vibrant and most importantly, delicious.”
Customer service team lead, Becky, is a constant source of inspiration as she field questions like this all day, every day!
“My number one piece of advice would be to embrace tempeh. You might think it’s a bit strange at first, but it is such an easy and versatile ingredient that can be used to make the most delicious (and protein-rich recipes) you can imagine! Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans (hello, gut health!) and has a delicious smoky flavour. Just of your daily protein requirement (win!) and it can often be the perfect replacement for animal protein in recipes, so minimal fuss is needed. Try our Chilli Tempeh Satay Tacos for a delicious protein hit!”
Are you keen to incorporate more veg into your diet? Why not give our vegetarian meal plan a go!